Meliá, Barceló and NH Implement Asset Light Model

2 September 2019

The major hospitality groups Barceló, Meliá and NH are taking advantage of the fervour in the Spanish real estate market to sell off some of their real estate holdings to interested funds and socimis. Many of the firms are implementing an asset rotation policy, shedding capital-intensive investments and looking to switch to a policy of hotel management and leasing.

To this end, Meliá, Barceló and NH have sold hotels worth approximately 500 million euros over the last two years as a wave of new investors, many socimis, have entered the market. Meliá began its asset-light policy a decade ago, and it is looking to increase the percentage of its EBITDA from its current 32% to 50% by 2024. In 2019, it accounted for just 2%.

Barceló is following the same sort of strategy, selling a hotel in Marbella to Hispania for €19 million. In 2017, Barceló sold 24% of its hotel sector Socimi Bay for €172 million, holding into long-term leases on the hotels.

NH, now part of the Thai group Minor, sold the NH Collection Barbizon Palace in Amsterdam to the German asset manager Deka for €156 million earlier this year, while also maintaining a 20-year lease on the property. NH has assets valued at €2.1 billion, including 350 hotels, with 54,000 rooms. Of those, NH only owns 76. The rest are leased or managed by the hospitality group.

Original Story: Expansión – Rebeca Arroyo

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

CBRE: Hotel Investment Set a New Record of €4.9bn in 2018

10 January 2019 – Expansión

The hotel segment broke a new record last year thanks to two key operations: the takeover of Hispania by the US fund Blackstone and the takeover of the chain NH by the Thai firm Minor.

The hotel segment made history again in 2018 with a record investment volume of €4.9 billion, which represented an increase of 33% with respect to the previous year, boosted by the US fund Blackstone’s takeover of the Socimi Hispania and the Thai firm Minor’s takeover of the Spanish chain NH.

According to data from the consultancy CBRE, last year, 240 hotel assets were transacted in Spain spanning 36,500 rooms in total, which represents growth of 17% and 30%, respectively. In other words, more and larger-volume operations were closed in 2018 than in 2017.

The hotel market whereby completed five extraordinary years, driven by the excellent evolution of tourism. Spain is a market leader in this activity, with 81.9 million international visitors in 2017 and 81.2 million last year (…).

The most active investors in 2018 were institutional players, which accounted for 66% of operations, followed by hotel groups (21%) and private equity and family offices (13%). In the ranking of operations, the purchase of Hispania stands out, which ended up in the hands of Blackstone after the fund acquired more than 90% of that company. The US giant purchased the Hungarian-born magnate George Soros’ 16.56% stake in Hispania in April and, subsequently, launched a takeover valuing the company at €1.992 billion. After successfully completing the takeover in September, Blackstone became the largest hotel owner in Spain, with a portfolio of 46 assets and more than 13,144 rooms.

After the purchase of Hispania, came the takeover of NH by Minor. Following that operation, the Thai group became the owner of a portfolio of 350 hotels in Europe and Latin America – 30% of which are in Spain.

Other significant operations also included the entry into the market of the Chinese group Gaw Capital, which acquired 50% of the Hospes Hotel Group, worth €125 million, teaming up with Omega Capital, the family office owned by Alicia Koplowitz, owner of the other 50% of the chain.

In terms of individual assets, the purchase of the luxury Villa Magna Hotel in Madrid stands out. The Turkish group Dogus sold it to the Mexican Socimi RLH, chaired by Allen Sanginés-Krause for €210 million.

Renovation

The National Director of CBRE Hotels España, Jorge Ruiz, explained that, as well as the vertiginous sale of hotel assets, the notable investments in asset renovations stood out once again.

“The Spanish hotel stock is better equipped today to face the challenges on the horizon, such as the recovery of competing destinations, the impact of a hard Brexit and a slowdown in the Spanish economy”, he said.

Ruiz explained that, unlike during the previous upward cycle, hoteliers have opted to invest in renovating their portfolios, which will allow them to increase their prices.

In terms of the type of assets, vacation hotels accounted for 64% of investments, following the trend established in 2017, due in large part to the purchase of Hispania, whose hotels are located primarily on the Spanish islands and along the coastline. Investment in urban assets went from 40% to 36%. In 2018, the main star asset were 4-star hotels, which accounted for 64% of operations, followed by 5-star hotels, with 21%.

Star destinations

By destination, the Canary Islands accounted for 35% of investment, followed by the Balearic Islands, with 20%. The third-ranked location was Madrid, with 12%, followed by Barcelona (8%) and Málaga (5%) (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spain’s Competition Authority Approves Minor’s Takeover of NH

21 July 2018 – Expansión

Minor’s takeover of the NH Hotel Group is moving forward. The Spanish National Securities and Markets Commission (CNMV) admitted the offer from the Thai company Minor on Thursday and then, yesterday (Friday), Minor obtained approval from the Spanish and Portuguese competition authorities (CNMC). In this way, the offer is conditioned “exclusively” on its approval by Minor’s General Shareholders Meeting, which has been convened for 9 August. The Thai company currently controls 29.8% of NH’s share capital and, in September, plans to complete the purchase of an additional 8.4% stake from the Chinese firm HNA, which will increase its percentage stake to more than 38%.

The company, which is offering to pay €6.40 per share (€6.30 following the payment of the dividend approved by the General Shareholders’ Meeting) has indicated that its objective involves controlling between 51% and 55% of the Spanish group and for the remaining shares to continue to be listed. If that limit is exceeded, the company will consider making way for the entry of a financial partner in the share capital. Minor has also said that its objective involves increasing NH’s dividend by 50% next year to €0.15 per share.

The Thai group recorded revenues of €1.4 billion in 2017, has a market capitalisation of €3.9 billion and employs 66,000 people. With this operation, Minor will strengthen its hotel presence in America and Europe. Minor has 161 hotels and 20,384 rooms, primarily in Asia and Africa, whilst NH has 382 establishments and 59,350 rooms. Currently, the only markets in which the two chains have a presence are Brazil, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

At the General Shareholders’ Meeting held in June, the Chairman of NH’s Board, Alfredo Fernández Agras, described the offer as insufficient. Moreover, the President of Hesperia and CEO of NH, José Antonio Castro, expressed his criticism of the operation and his dissatisfaction with the Thai group’s entry onto the Board of Directors, where it now has three representatives.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Deloitte: 173 New Hotels will Open in Spain Between Now and 2021

9 June 2018 – Expansión

The tourist boom and interest in the real estate sector have boosted the hotel segment. So far this year, operations amounting to €2.4 billion have been closed and an acceleration is forecast for the coming months.

Spanish hotels are standing out as one of the most sought-after assets for investors in the real estate market. The tourism boom in Spain, which recorded its fifth consecutive record year in 2017 with the arrival of 82 million international visitors, coupled with the property boom, caused hotel investment to reach maximums in 2017 of almost €3.1 billion. Moreover, the commitment from investors to these assets will allow that figure to double this year.

According to data from the Hotel Property Handbook, compiled by Deloitte, to which Expansión has had access, €3.1 billion was transacted in the segment last year, which represents an increase of 44% YoY and accounts for 22% of all the investment activity undertaken in Europe, placing Spain at the head of the investment ranking behind only the United Kingdom, which accounted for 29%.

During the first five months of this year, more than €2.4 billion has been invested, which will be added to operations currently under negotiation amounting to around €4.2 billion, which are expected to close over the coming months, according to the study.

“So far this year, we have transacted an investment volume almost as high as that signed during the whole of last year. The private equity funds are proving to be the main stars of the activity, which may even double the figure recorded in 2017”, said Javier García-Mateo, Partner at Deloitte Financial Advisory.

Loans

That is in addition to the strong appetite from traditional Spanish credit institutions to finance hotel properties, due to the momentum of the sector. Their financing spans projects under development, including remodellings, repositionings and developments. In this sense, the most active banks in terms of senior lines of credit for these assets are CaixaBank, Santander and Sabadell.

Investors are betting on mega-operations and the creation of large portfolios, which will allow them to have a diversified business and gain bargaining power over tour operators.

This trend comes in addition to the interest from Asian players in hoisting their flags in Spain. For example, the emergence of the Thai group Minor in NH Hotel Group, which has reached an agreement to purchase HNA’s stake in the Spanish hotel chain and is studying a takeover bid for 100% of the company.

In this context, the large hotel groups have taken advantage of the boom years to invest in improvements in their asset portfolios although there is still a long way to go. The opening and renovation of hotels consolidated itself in 2017, with activity involving 74 hotels and 12,500 rooms, reaching cruising speed following a significant recovery in 2015 and 2016, with projects in 120 hotels and almost 17,300 rooms.

Over the next five years, investment in work to adapt the hotel stock is expected to amount to €2.2 billion.

According to the report, 65% of the hotel stock in Spain is obsolete, with an average age of more than nine years, which makes investment in capex the main priority if operators are to handle the competitive pressures and achieve better margins.

“The strong growth in tourism in Spain contrasts with average rates that are still excessively low in the holiday segment. The renovation of obsolete projects, combined with the arrival of international operators, will allow the repositioning of an offer that ought to compete on quality rather than quantity”, explains Viviana Otero, from Deloitte Financial Advisory.

By region, the Canarian archipelago, Andalucía and the Balearic Islands are the regions that require the greatest capex spending, accounting for almost 68% of the total.

This effort has contributed to an improvement in the main performance ratios of hotels. According to Deloitte, revenues per available room (RevPAR), one of the main profitability indicators, grew by 10% last year.

New openings

The strong performance of the sector also accounts for the new promotions and project renovations underway. Over the next four years, 173 hotels are expected to be opened in Spain containing almost 30,000 rooms. “53% of those will be new projects and 47% will be renovations. It is worth highlighting the importance that rebranding is gaining as a defensive strategy against the alternative destinations of Greece, Turkey and Croatia, said Patricia Plana from Deloitte Financial Advisory.

In terms of challenges facing the sector, the report highlights the saturation of certain destinations in the summer and the problems of co-existence alongside local residents in those regions, as well as the recovery of competitor countries in Southern Europe and the rise of holiday rentals boosted by collaborative economy platforms such as Airbnb.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Minor Buys 26.5% of NH Hoteles from HNA for €622M

5 June 2018 – El País

The Thai company Minor International has purchased the Chinese conglomerate HNA’s 26.46% stake in NH Hotel Group for a total of €662.3 million, and has whereby become the largest shareholder of the Spanish hotel group, according to a statement filed on Tuesday by the Chinese company with Spain’s National Securities and Markets Commission (CNMV).

The operation has been divided into two tranches. On the one hand, HNA has sold a package of 65.85 million shares in the Spanish group, representing 17.64% of NH’s share capital, at a price of €6.40 per share, for a total of €421.4 million. That operation is expected to be closed by the middle of this month.

On the other hand, the Asian group has sold 32.93 million shares, representing 8.83% of NH’s share capital for €6.10 per share, equivalent to a total price of €200.9 million. Nevertheless, this second operation is subject to the execution of the first and is expected to be closed by the middle of September.

Forced takeover

Currently, Minor holds a 10.22% stake in NH, although it only holds 1.66% in shares. It holds the remaining 8.56% through financial instruments. When its acquisition of HNA’s stake is completed, Minor will be obliged to launch a takeover bid for 100% of the Spanish hotel group, as established by the law, as it will exceed the threshold of 30% of its share capital. The minimum price of that bid will have to be €6.40 per share.

Minor acquired its first stake in NH a month ago, with the purchase of 8.6% from the fund Oceanwood for €196 million, when it paid exactly the same price (€6.40 per share) that it will now pay HNA. Following that operation, Minor explained that “no management changes are expected” in NH in relation to its investment in the company, but it left the door open to expand its stake and, therefore, take absolute control over it.

Minor International Public Company Limited (MINT), the company that operates the Minor Hoteles brand, has 160 hotels, 2,000 restaurants and 400 outlets, most of which are located in South-East Asia. The firm’s market capitalisation amounts to around €4 billion.

Original story:El País (by Ramón Muñoz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Elliott & Minor Enter the Bidding for HNA’s Stake in NH

30 May 2018 – Expansión

The bidding to acquire the stake owned by the Chinese holding company HNA in NH is entering the home stretch. The Asian giant has set this week as the deadline for the receipt of binding offers for its 29.5% stake in NH, which will be diluted to 25.5% following the execution of the hotel chain’s convertible bonds that are currently in circulation.

The investment funds that have made it to the final round are Lone Star, which has joined forces with the US hotel chain Hyatt to launch its offer, as well as Apollo and Elliott, who have also expressed their interest. Meanwhile, Starwood Capital and Blackstone, which both analysed the operation, have been excluded from the process.

The offers from the funds fall in the range of between €5.50 and €6.00 per share, according to market sources. Yesterday, NH’s share price closed at €6.39. Other sources explain that the funds have signed a standstill with the company so as to not exceed 20% in NH following the operation and whereby avoid having to launch a takeover bid for 100% of the entity at a low price.

These funds have also been joined by the Thai hotel chain Minor, which last week acquired €30 million of Oceanwood’s shares, representing 8.6% of NH, for around €190 million. The agreement includes a pact whereby the manager concedes Minor the right to exclusively negotiate the purchase of the rest of its stake in NH, which, after the bond conversion, will amount to 9.5%.

If it were to acquire all of HNA’s stake, Minor would clearly exceed the 30% threshold that would oblige it to launch a takeover bid for the entire company. In that scenario, the Thai group, whose shares are traded on the Hong Kong stock market, would have a number of alternatives: sell some of its stake on the market, buy fewer shares from HNA or request permission from the shareholders to launch a takeover bid (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake